Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Faith in Finances - Part 2

Part Two - August 2010

We just wanted to send out an update and God-story related to our previous email from this summer regarding Scott's job transition...

It has been SO neat to see God work and confirm that He has led us down this path, first and foremost for His glory and fame. So everything you read below, remember that the praise goes to Him and not to us.

Even before Scott started his position at the school a few weeks ago, God used men and women and students to encourage and edify him with their comments and excitement about having him as the 7th grade Bible teacher at PCS. If you are one of those, THANK YOU for your kind words! The school administration has been so encouraging of Scott as well, and he is so thankful for the principals and headmaster who are willing to mentor him and invest in him as both a teacher, co-worker, and fellow heir with Christ.

We thought we would send out an update around Christmas, but God's miracles and blessings have already been so abundant that we wanted to give you a glimpse into it all as soon as possible. Christy has been keeping a notebook of verses that the Lord has given us over the course of the summer to remind us of His love and provision. Additionally, she has tried to keep track of all the ways God has provided for us in the midst of our financial transition. These are listed below, and we hope you will be encouraged by them. We pray you feel blessed as many of you see your own acts of kindness and generosity toward us that we attribute to your willingness to serve and obey God. We also ask for your forgiveness where we have forgotten things because we know God has provided in ways that we've failed to even see.

Also, some of you know that we are currently in our "45 days of faith" - our little nickname for the time between the last student ministries paycheck and the first school paycheck. Now more than ever, every little miracle seems to jump out at us, whereas before we would have not have been prone to see God's hand quietly orchestrating every ounce of provision and care. What is even more amazing is the peace and contentment God has given us - and especially Christy - during this time. Recently she had "one of those days," but she knows that the peace and joy that came to her heart could only be from the power of the Holy Spirit. You see, the boys were both diagnosed with strep throat, and as she loaded them into the car to leave the doctor's office, the a/c in the car broke. A quick call to Honda revealed that it was the compressor that would need to be the tune of $3400. This was all about 5pm. By6pm, God had provided an incredibly Godly and talented man willing to fix the car for half that...and before 8pmeven rolled around, this man's wife had called and said that a church/school family was willing to help contribute toward the repair costs so that we would only have to pay a fraction of it all. In less than 3 hours the car had broken & God had it all lined up to be fixed affordably. Yay God! As we discussed later in the evening, marveling at what God had done, we both agreed that in such a mysterious way, trials and tribulations are God's tool for revealing His love and faithfulness. We can't understand the full depth of His character without difficulties in our lives. (And we are the first to admit that a broken a/c on a car is a very shallow form of difficulty; we know many of you are walking much harder paths of pain that God has not yet found us worthy to walk...)

The verse that God gave Christy to start her day with that crazy day was from Habakkuk 3:17-18. She acknowledges that the Holy Spirit gave her the strength to live out this verse, and we pray for you and hope that you will pray for us that no matter what future trials come our ways...YET we will REJOICE in Him...

Habakkuk 3:17-18 -
                Though the fig tree should not blossom,
                nor fruit be on the vines,
                the produce of the olive fail
                and the fields yield no food,
                the flock be cut off from the fold
                and there be no herd in the stalls,

Other verses for encouragement:

Psalm 9:9-10
                The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed;
                a stronghold in times of trouble.
                And those who know your name put their trust in you,
                for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Isaiah 43:2,4
                When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
                And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
                When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
                And the flame shall not consume you.
                Because you are precious in my eyes,

                and honored, and I LOVE YOU...

Philippians 4:19
                And my God will meet all your needs according to his
                glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Nehemiah 9:21
                Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked NOTHING.
                Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

Psalm 112:7
                He is not afraid of bad news;
                his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Our (incomplete) list of ways God has provided for us on our new journey...

*An extra class for Scott to teach for extra income
*A coaching position that earns an extra stipend
*An extra shift at the bike shop to pay for Christy's travels to N.C. with a neighbor friend
*A mini-camp teaching position for Christy and free camp for the boys this summer
*Free swim lessons for Tal from a talented and Godly swim teacher
*A weekend on Lake Burton from gracious friends sharing their lake home with us
*Scott's garden producing food for us to eat this summer
*Scott safely traveling to work on his bike - saving us gas money and car mileage
*Two wonderful, Christian high school girls blessing us with free & discounted babysitting
*Awesome neighbors willing to watch our dog for free when we were out of town
*Tal busted his tooth in a biking accident - praise God that it healed on its own!
*Purses, shoes, clothing, and jewelry from amazing friends and family for Christy
*Cousin Mikey's hand-me-down shoes and clothes graciously packed by Aunt Beth and shipped by Uncle Chuck
*Loving neighbor who gave us a very nice Igloo cooler to use this summer as Christy worked camp
*Multiple invitations to use the pools of friends (our n'hood has no pool)
*Free Gwinnett Braves tickets and parking from Scott's mom's neighbor
*Chik-Fil-A Cow  appreciation day - the entire family ate for FREE (and yes, we joyfully dressed up as cows - even Scott :-)
*An entire wardrobe of new work clothes from Scott from an incredibly gracious neighbor
*"New" casual clothes for Scott from his awesome brother
*Gift cards to Target and Publix just when we needed them!
*Tal's eyes are healing; he didn't need new glasses; and his precious doctor waived the copay of his last appt.
*Free toys and school supplies from various people willing to share what they didn't need
*Scott won free Dippin' Dots playing bean bag toss - the boys were thrilled!
*Precious Grandma and Nanny who stocked our home with toiletries and food for our "45 days of faith", bought the boys some fall clothes/shoes, and took us out to eat - a rare treat!
*Free tickets to take the boys to see the Wiggles from a generous family at the church
*Surprise books and toys from Grandpa Penzone
*Abundant blessings from Uncle Chuck & Aunt Beth - tickets to the zoo, the pool, the gym, and meals out!
*Our broken car fixed for a fraction of Honda's quoted cost, by a godly man and the contributions of his and other families.

We know this is just a miniscule fraction of the ways God has cared for us. Every breath that we breathe is a gift from Him. What has really jumped out at us is that God has not only blessed us with things we need, but He has LAVISHED His love on us because He is a perfect Father who loves to bless His children. We pray that you may also know this loving God. He is not punitive; He disciplines those He loves, but He also enjoys spending time with His children and blessing them. More than anything we long for all our friends and family to know the love of God that spared not His own Son, but gave Him up willingly so that we could know not only peace on this earth, but peace and joy eternally in heaven with Him. We are ALWAYS willing to disciple anyone who wants to know more of this kind of God, so please know that our door is always open, there is always coffee in the pantry, and there is always a place on our couch to help you discover what it means to have a real, living relationship with Jesus.

Faith in Finances - Part 1

Part One - May 2010

It is with great joy and excitement that we share with you my recent job transition that will result in a $10,000 cut in pay and benefits!


Yes, we know that is the initial reaction, but we are thankful to use this opportunity to share God's faithfulness and goodness behind this story.

First...No, we are not becoming missionaries and asking for your financial support, so please, read on! :-)

For several months God has been working in our hearts and lives, presenting us with various opportunities for the future. We've been praying and seeking His will, but with each door we've peeked through, we've seen wonderful blessings and circumstances, but we have not felt led to walk through the door.

Then, Perimeter Christian School, a ministry of Perimeter Church (where I currently work and our family worships), came to me with the chance to teach middle school Bible in the fall. Working with students in the classroom setting has always been close to my heart, and Bible has always been my favorite subject to teach. I've shared with Christy many times how I miss being more intimately involved in the students' lives as my current job offers more large group opportunities and less time for consistent small group ministry. We were both immediately drawn to this job offer, particularly since Christy has had the privilege of teaching at this school before the boys were born, and we both highly value the philosophies, covenant community, and leadership there. However, when we heard the initial financial compensation, we both just kinda wrote it off, not thinking it was doable and therefore must not be God's plan for our lives.

Yet His Spirit persisted on our hearts. Wise mentors spoke into our lives. Christy and I both spent time in prayer, and although the numbers do not make sense on paper, we couldn't shake the inner sense that we were called to accept this offer in faith.

Now don't get us wrong...some things are by faith, and some are by foolishness, but we both came to the conclusion that we were called to embark on this adventure, trusting in God's provision. Truly, in the large scheme of things, it is a small step of faith. But for us, and where we are in our walks, it is a bigger step than we've taken before. 

Ultimately, we had a choice. To obey God and trust what we believe are His true and precious promises to us in His Word (see below), accept the job, and see what He does. OR, we could recoil in fear, disobey God, and see what He does. Either way, we know He has us in the palm of His hand. He is sovereign and in control. Who are we, mere humans, to think we can "mess up" His plan? But with obedience comes blessing, so one morning in the kitchen, we stood in the kitchen & said, "Let's do it." After ten years of being Christians, we've learned from experience that it's always just easier to go with God than push against Him.
So....with our decision made, I went into work for the day, and in less than 24 hours, the school had offered me some additional work to make up part of the $10,000 gap, including an extra course to teach and some coaching work. About this time, Christy was offered a job teaching summer camp to preschoolers. She had applied earlier in the spring but had been told that due to low enrollment she was not yet needed. Low and behold, now they have enough kids to hire her. Coincidence? Obviously, we don't think so. 

A couple of weeks ago, TAL was offered a bit part in a film vignette. No, we aren't planning on moving toHollywood anytime soon, but his little paycheck fills another bit of the gap.

Is there still a gap? Yes. Do we believe God will cover that gap? Absolutely! The peace and joy we feel about this decision could only possibly come from Him. 

Why do we share with you the big $10,000 number? Is it so you will feel sorry for us and write us a check? NO! It is so that you can be encouraged by how BIG and AWESOME our God is. May our story encourage you on your own journey of faith. Next year at this time we will send you another letter sharing how the gaps were filled, how God miraculously provided, and what He had up His sleeve all along. We also want to make an oath with you, our friends. We are publicly proclaiming that through this we will not complain about money or put a voice to our worries. If we truly are trusting God, then we need to "put our money where our mouth is" (haha!). Now, if you ask us a question about our finances, we will answer honestly, but our hope and prayer is that by the Spirit's power we will not allow our finances to taint what we believe is the character of God - that He is a God who loves and provides for His children. A Scripture that really convicted us and helped us make this decision was Psalm 37:25 - "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Will we break this oath? Probably. That's where Jesus comes in. He was sacrificed on our behalf and for all of our sin so that when we do screw up, the debt has already been paid. We can find forgiveness and our joy can be restored. So when we fail to live up to our oath, please gently hold us accountable. Hopefully it won't happen too often because we long for our boys, family, and friends to see that God is real. He is intimately involved in our lives, not just sitting up on high distantly removed from His creation. We want our story to bring His light and life and love into your lives.

We love you all, and we appreciate all your encouragement and prayers as we take off on this new journey together!